[NOTE: Pictures for this article are not yet uploaded and will come.]
A living Laboratory of Sustainable Design
By Nathan Larrimer
On October 19, the long awaited raising of the sustainable classroom, also known as the “Sun-Shack,” took place at Colby Sawyer College. Students and community members enrolled in the sustainable design and construction class were involved in the raising of the Sun Shack. Fellow students and other community members joined in at the event. The project began in the fall of 2012 and is taught by Bryan Felice, who is the founding owner of Undustrial Timber Frames. The class studied areas such as building sciences, engineering, permaculture, insulation, and design in order to turn this sustainable vision into reality.
In the fall of 2012 the class focused on envisioning the final design of their new classroom, and began cutting of the frames in February. Most of the main timbers are Eastern White Pine, and the braces were a combination of local yellow birch and black cherry. Every material was obtained within 35 miles of the College. This includes local loggers, cutters, and mills, as well as all the pegs of the Sun Shack, which were bought at Northcott Pegs in Walpole, NH. This small family-owned business supplies 98% of all timber frame pegs in the country. There isn’t a due date for finishing the classroom, but the class is setting their sights on the end of the spring semester, 2014.
Bryan Felice has worked in various capacities in the environmental field and has a passion for sustainable construction. When asked about whether or not he sees this project as a representation of what a “transition town” can look like, he enthusiastically responded with, “Oh absolutely.” Bryan explained the design of the Sun Shack as being a traditional vernacular representation of New Hampshire, meaning that the design is based on the concept of 18th century houses in the region. The classroom was “designed to link the Old traditional vernacular with new 21st century technologies and techniques.”
The Sun Shack will be an educational facility beyond the present construction. The classroom is facing true south and will capture thermal energy for growing plants inside. Houses and buildings today are built facing different directions because of the technical advances in heating systems. The building will be monitored for moisture management, heat loss, and other data after completion. It will be a living laboratory of sustainable design.
This project is not only an expectation of what is possible in a transition town, but it will also help the local community become empowered by its inspirational design and potential. The final product is meant to be a symbol of what is possible when a community comes together to make their vision of sustainability a reality.
Bio: Nathan Larrimer is a junior majoring in Environmental Studies at Colby Sawyer College. Nathan is the web developer for the Kearsarge Valley Transition Initiative, working with the community to progress towards a sustainable future. www.kearsargetransition.wordpress.com.